Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday said that the Indian Railways has floated a tender to invite private players to build a wheel plant in order to build wheels for high speed trains under Make In India initiative for the first time in history. While making the announcement, Vaishnaw also said that the wheel plant will be set up in 18 months and Railways will assure procurement of 80,000 wheels for Rs 600 cr per year, news agency PTI reported.
“The Railways has drawn up a blueprint to become an exporter of wheels and on Friday a tender was floated to build a wheel plant which would manufacture at least 80,000 wheels every year,” Vaishnaw said while addressing a prees briefing.
On a yearly basis, Indian Railways needs approximately 2 lakh wheels and as per the initiative, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) will provide one lakh wheels. The rest will be provided by a new ‘Make in India’ plant.
Futhermore, the Railway Minister also said that tender will be awarded on the condition that the plant will be exporter of wheels too and the export market will be Europe.
Lately, consignment of wheels of the Vande Bharat train were stuck in Ukraine due to its ongoing invasion by Russian forces. The consignment was later airlifted in order to meet deadline set for their production.
The announcement comes months after the Indian Railways decided to manufacture Vande Bharat train wheels at its Bengaluru factory as its plan to import them from Ukraine was impeded by the ongoing war-like situation in the country.
With the war halting manufacturing in Ukraine, the Railway Wheel Factory in Yelahanka in Bengaluru will now prioritise manufacturing these wheels for two Vande Bharat rakes, PTI had reported citing sources.
Railway Wheel Factory (RWF) has issued tenders for parts required for these wheels and is expected to complete the production over the next two-three months, a report published by the news agency in May stated.
It is also being said that the decision will help the railways to reduce its dependence on imports for train wheels. Ukraine is one of the largest manufacturers of railway wheels worldwide and India imports 60-70 per cent of its required wheels.